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NASA's LLCD Tests Confirm Laser Communication Capabilities In Space

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the just-beam-me-the-information-scotty dept.

Shark 107

An anonymous reader writes "This week, NASA released the results of its Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration's (LLCD) 30-day test carried out by its Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) that is currently in orbit around the Moon. According to the space agency, the LLCD mission proved that laser communications are practical at a distance of a quarter of a million miles and that such a system could perform as well, if not better, than any NASA radio system."

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107 comments

SETI (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805329)

Does this make what SETI is looking for pointless? Should they instead be looking for lasers if they work better for communication.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805361)

No, they should be looking for some as-yet-undiscovered faster than light communication.

Maybe they can start with gravity (waves?). The force of gravity is faster than light. Why this isn't widely known is a mystery to me (probably breaks someone's pet model - you think science doesn't have heretics?) but it's true. The earth doesn't orbit where the sun was 8 minutes ago. If it did it would have long ago left the solar system. The earth orbits where the sun is right now. It takes light about 8 minutes to travel from the sun to the earth.

Re:SETI (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 months ago | (#45805495)

The earth orbits where the sun is right now. It takes light about 8 minutes to travel from the sun to the earth.

No. It also takes 8 minutes for changes in the gravitational field to travel from the sun to the earth.

The earth orbits, where the Sun appears to be; as the Sun appears to move, the gravitational field changes.

These changes are delayed by 8 minutes.

The constant 'c' from special relativity is not just the speed of light in a vacuum -- it is also the highest possible speed for any physical interaction within nature, and the conversion factor from changing units of time into units of space.

Gravitational waves, Gluons, Photons, and other massless particles travel at a maximum speed of c.

It is impossible to convey information at a speed faster than c.

There are cases where a wave can propagate faster than c, but no information can be conveyed faster than light.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805535)

Isn't this what researchers are using Quantum Entanglement to break?

c is only the maximum speed in our 3 dimensions.

Re:SETI (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 4 months ago | (#45805897)

they try to understand it, but AFAIK it's pretty clear that you cannot convey information through entanglemet either

Re:SETI (2)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | about 4 months ago | (#45806251)

Not that anyone has figured out yet anyway. I wouldn't wish to preclude the possibility.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806345)

Either quantum mechanics is fundamentally wrong or faster than light communication is not possible with entanglement. Or I guess you can consider a third possibility, that mathematics is incorrect...

Re:SETI (1)

Antonovich (1354565) | about 4 months ago | (#45810225)

Ah the good ol' "it can't be wrong because mathematics says so". This is one of the most misunderstood things about the universe and our attempts at understanding it, and unfortunately something many scientists don't even properly grasp. Without getting into an historical account of the development of Western semiotics and the ways in which our culture (and now many others) construe notions such as "truth" and "logic", we need look no further than "what is science". Science, in the Western tradition, is about attempting to describe the world around us with patterns we observe. Mathematics is a tool that helps us do this, and not some magical "truth-maker" - we are not discovering the mind of God, one differential equation at a time, we are looking at the world around us and describing it. Science over the last few centuries has been very good at giving us great predictive power, and is getting better at it every day. Some might say that is, indeed, the point of it. Over the centuries scholars have invented new tools to aid us in describing and predicting, and it is folly to think that this will not continue. Mathematics, as a tool, cannot be "wrong". It can be fit for purpose or not.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45811749)

You somehow took one sentence out of context in a two sentence post ... the very start of the post admits that quantum mechanics being wrong is a possibility. Saying that a limitation is fundamental to a theory, considering it comes from direct application of mathematics to be the basic tenets of the theory, is not the same as saying that the limitation will never be exceeded, or some sort of ego trip about being infallible. It is simply saying you can't have it with that theory, and that if it turns out to be possible, it will be because some other theory supersedes the one being talked about.

Way too often people seem to fall into a trap starting misunderstanding some pop-sci description of a theory, with a claim, "Theory X says Y might be possible," when theory X says Y is impossible. If you simply point out that latter point, some will respond, "Well, maybe theory X is wrong." That is always a possibility, but their original argument is completely baseless if the only thing supporting it was a misinterpretation of a theory. Experiments can show a theory to be wrong, of course, but without such experiments yet, you're still stuck with a baseless argument.

Re:SETI (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 4 months ago | (#45806721)

Sure there's the possibility that our current standard model is absolutely wrong, nobody's precluding that.
In our current standard model, however, it's pretty much given that information can't be conveyed FTL, not at least becasue that conflicts with causality.

Re:SETI (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#45807275)

We live in 4 dimensions. People keep forgetting Time.
And the flow of time is still not completely ruled out to be adjustable, The relativity experiments proved that.

Re:SETI (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#45805667)

The earth orbits, where the Sun appears to be; as the Sun appears to move, the gravitational field changes.

The Sun is where it appears to be - we're orbiting it, not the other way around, so if you received a photon from the Sun and sent one back in the same direction, it would hit the Sun - it wouldn't miss it.

Right?

Re:SETI (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#45805881)

Wrong. The sun is orbiting the galactic core at about 828,000 km/h, giving it a non-inertial reference frame. In the eight minutes it takes sunlight light to reach us the sun has moved 110,400 km within the galaxy. Then there's the velocity of our galaxy within it's cluster (and our cluster within its super-cluster, etc)

Re:SETI (2)

Solandri (704621) | about 4 months ago | (#45806437)

No, he's mostly correct. The Earth is also moving around the galactic core with the sun, so the relative motion is just the Earth's orbit around the sun.

The distinction here is between linear and rotational movement. The sun's movement for the year (i.e. relative to background stars) is a linear movement (changes in relative position between observer and subject) and thus is affected by relativity and the 8.3 min travel time of light. Since it's only traversing a bit less than one degree per day (360 degrees in 365.24 days), this motion is very small. In 8.3 minutes the sun's actual position changes an almost imperceptible 0.0057 degrees.

Nearly all of the sun's "movement" across the sky is caused by the Earth's rotation (change in orientation of the observer) and thus is not affected by relativity and the 8.3 min travel time of light. The sun is where it appears to be right now, even though the sun appears to have moved 2.1 degrees in the sky during the 8.3 minutes it takes its light to reach us. If this weren't the case, if you spun around 360 degrees in 1 second, a star 1 million light years away would have traveled 2*pi*1 million light years in 1 second, far exceeding the speed of light.

There is no absolute reference frame for linear motion. If I'm on a spaceship moving at 10 km/s relative to your spaceship, we cannot tell if I'm stationary and you're moving at 10 km/s, or if you're stationary and I'm moving at 10 km/s. But there is an absolute reference frame for rotation. If I'm rotating I'll experience centrifugal (centripetal) forces, which disappear when I'm no longer rotating.

Re:SETI (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#45807037)

That's why I specified rotational movement, which is "real" and thus could be responsible for bizarre anomalies. Presuming the validity of General Relativity, linear movement is irrelevant to the discussion - just say that the sun is standing still while the rest of the universe is moving past and it is so.

So perhaps you can flesh out what I've forgotten and Google refuses to reveal: I could swear that I've heard from a reputable source that there is a measurable discrepancy between where the sun appears to be, and where it actually is. Clearly Earth's rotation can't account for such a thing - as you say if the sun is (effectively) standing still then when the sun is physically directly overhead then sunlight will be hitting me from the exact same direction, even if those particular photons did leave the sun when it was still a couple degrees from high noon. Did I really end up incorporating a chunk of BS into my catalog of reputable celestial phenomena?

Re:SETI (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#45807281)

Ah, wait a minute - the Earth is moving as well as rotating. So the photons reaching Earth are moving (relative to Earth) with a velocity that is the combination of their initial velocity and Earth's orthogonal velocity. Meaning they should appear to be slightly blue-shifted, and coming from a point slightly more in front of the Earth in it's orbit. Unfortunately I can't remember the details of relativistic velocity addition offhand, so I can't calculate the exact angle of the discrepancy.

Given that, then if gravity travels through space at a finite speed then a similar discrepancy should exist, with gravitons hitting the Earth from slighty "in front", and accelerating the planet in it's orbit. Which apparently is not happening. That would seem to suggest that gravity doesn't actually travel through space at finite speed, which leaves open the possibilities of instantaneous gravity, or that gravity is a property of the space itself, and not something that travels through space, which would seem to be exactly what Einstein said. Gravity could propagate very slowly, but once "in place" the geometry of space is different, and anything passing through that space will be "deflected" as it follows a straight line through curved space.

Re:SETI (1)

hubie (108345) | about 4 months ago | (#45807541)

Ah, wait a minute - the Earth is moving as well as rotating. So the photons reaching Earth are moving (relative to Earth) with a velocity that is the combination of their initial velocity and Earth's orthogonal velocity. Meaning they should appear to be slightly blue-shifted, and coming from a point slightly more in front of the Earth in it's orbit. Unfortunately I can't remember the details of relativistic velocity addition offhand, so I can't calculate the exact angle of the discrepancy.

This is referred to as The Aberation of Light [wikipedia.org] , which is an unfortunate name because light aberration has a different meaning [wolfram.com] with regards to optical systems.

Given that, then if gravity travels through space at a finite speed then a similar discrepancy should exist, with gravitons hitting the Earth from slighty "in front", and accelerating the planet in it's orbit.

This makes no sense to me.

Re:SETI (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#45807833)

Thank you for that name, now I know I'm not crazy and have a starting point for further research.

>This makes no sense to me.
Okay - so we agree that the sun appears slightly "in front of" it's actual position, yes? And, from the perspective of an Earthbound observer that is a real phenomena - the photons are actually hitting the Earth from a direction other than directly sunward. Agreed?

Now imagine that, in addition to light, those photons carry a tiny bit of pull which will, on impact, pull the object in the direction they were coming from. And since the photons are not coming from the direction of the sun, the force they impart will not be directly toward the sun. That is to say their pull would be not towards the actual sun, but towards the apparent sun. To see the consequence we can decompose the force vector [sparknotes.com] into radial and tangential components: The large radial component will keep the Earth going in circles, and the tiny tangential component will cause it to gradually orbit faster.

Now obviously the photons themselves aren't carrying gravity, but the mechanism I described is how we currently believe all other forces are transmitted, via what's known as force-carrier particles - when we discuss something like an electric field, what we're actually discussing is a region of space in which electrostatic force-carrier particles are flowing. If gravity were transmitted via force-carrier particles (gravitons) traveling at light speed then they'd be traveling right alongside the photons, and the acceleration would be the same as if it were the photons itself exerting the pull.

Does that make more sense?

Re:SETI (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#45807835)

>as if it were the photons itself exerting the pull.
should be
as if the photons themselves were transmitting the pull.

Re:SETI (1)

hubie (108345) | about 4 months ago | (#45808167)

The thing you need to be careful of is mixing Newtonian ideas (instantaneous force vectors) with quantum or relativistic phenomena. However, there are many similarities between gravity and electromagnetism. If you go through all the math and consider the propagation delay between a moving charged particle and one at rest, it works out that the force vector points towards the instantaneous position of the moving charged particle because the EM field of the moving particle has a velocity-dependent component that cancels out the propagation delay effect. A similar thing happens if you work through the uglier equations of General Relativity, but the cancellation effect is not exact, and this difference is what gives rise to gravitational radiation (and is why we believe orbital pulsar systems have decaying orbits), and is also why we do not seem to detect a gravitational aberration effect..

This paper [arxiv.org] explains it pretty well. The math isn't too bad, though it uses tensor notation so it can look a bit intimidating if you're not used to it, but the text around the equations is pretty good.

Re:SETI (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#45807287)

Which is also why civilizations at the core of the galaxy could easily be far more advanced than us because the are traveling at a slower speed than us out here on the rim. Time for them is flowing at a different rate than us.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45808937)

Time for them is flowing at a different rate than us.

Yeah, at 0.3 parts per million difference...

Re:SETI (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#45810817)

And over several milennia that is a HUGE margin.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45811783)

Actually, over several millenniums, even ten millenniums, that is only 26 hours...

Even over a billion years that is only 300 years, which is completely insignificant compared to the amount of variation you have in the age of stars and the availability of elements that would impact the development of life on a planet. One less early impact or a slightly smaller planet cooling faster, or just a star forming earlier, and you would exceed that by orders of magnitude.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805925)

Gravity bends the path taken by light so being able to traverse the same path on the return trip is probably difficult. This means that the "straight line" observed to the Sun, is in fact bent by the influence of gravity.

The centre of mass of the Solar System lies outside of the centre of the Sun. In other words, the centre of the Solar System is not the centre of the Sun. Therefore, the Sun experiences a gravitational pull towards the other masses in the Solar System. This means the Sun traverses a path around the centre of mass of the Solar System. So technically, the Sun is not in a fitted spot in the centre of the Earth's orbit.

Also the Solar System is orbiting the centre of the Milky Way and so we are never in the same place in space.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806339)

We are orbiting the sun. I do not know what GP meant about "Sun appears to move". The Sun does not appear to move, because the Earth is moving with it. Since we are in the same inertial frame of reference, firing a photon back at the sun would hit it.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45810207)

No, the Earth and Sun orbit each other. I don't know why this is so difficult to realize.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barycenter

Re:SETI (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 months ago | (#45805687)

There are cases where a wave can propagate faster than c, but no information can be conveyed faster than light.

Interesting, I'd not heard of waves that can propagate faster than c, can you link to more info? If a wave can propagate faster than c then why can't it carry information?

Re:SETI (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 4 months ago | (#45805837)

Usually the issue is that by the time the wave arrives at you, you can't figure out which parts of it are actually information, and which parts of it are noise.

Re:SETI (2)

hubie (108345) | about 4 months ago | (#45805919)

It has to do with the difference between phase and group velocities when dealing with groups of waves. You can have a phase velocity greater than c but information is transferred via the group velocity. One place to start is here [physorg.com], another here [duke.edu]. You can find some nice applets around that will show it to you graphically. The topic comes up from time to time because it is at the heart of the misunderstanding of faster-than-light "photons".

Re:SETI (1, Informative)

flonker (526111) | about 4 months ago | (#45806097)

A great example of this that I've seen is: Shine a spotlight at the moon (from Earth) and sweep it across the surface. You can move the spot faster than the speed of light, thus the wave moves faster than c, but no individual photon moves faster than c, and no information is conveyed faster than c.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806751)

Not a real wave. While it has a sinusodial shape it have no wave-like properties.

Re:SETI (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 months ago | (#45806175)

I would suggest looking up the Nimtz double-prism experiment

Apparent faster than c transmission has been observed to be exceeded based on comparison of arrival times b/w groups of waves. transmitted and reflected waves arrived at detectors simultaneously, despite the transmitted light having also traversed an additional distance across a gap

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806415)

You mean the experiment by the physicist that claims effervescent waves are not explained by Maxwell's equations even though they are and would be covered by any intro E&M course?

It is not difficult to setup a table top quantum mechanics experiment that looks like you are getting faster than light transmission. The disappointing part comes when you find out the wavepackets sent out by your setup has enough of a head to it that you won't actually transmit information faster than c, only that your emitter has a ramp up time longer than the transit time of your system.

Re:SETI (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 months ago | (#45807267)

Interesting, thank you. The wikipedia article says "Nimtz stated that the frequency modulated (FM) carrier wave transported the 40th symphony of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 4.7 times faster than light due to the effect of quantum tunneling." So it appears that he did, in fact, transmit information faster than c.

Now I need to read up on quantum tunneling.

Re:SETI (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#45807363)

Nimtz stated that the frequency modulated (FM) carrier wave transported the 40th symphony of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 4.7 times faster than light due to the effect of quantum tunneling." So it appears that he did, in fact, state that he transmit[ted] information faster than c.

FTFY. Still plenty of contention surrounding the experiment and the many possible interpretations of it, by the looks of things.

Re:SETI (3, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 4 months ago | (#45805949)

I don't know anything about physics, but I have heard this quote:

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. - Arthur C Clarke

Re:SETI (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 4 months ago | (#45807125)

IOW, regardless of what a distinguished elderly scientists says, it's possible, for arbitrary values of 'it'.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45808969)

I don't know anything about physics,

That's OK. It is clear from these threads that most of the people posting here don't know anything about physics either.

Re:SETI (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about 4 months ago | (#45807335)

"It is impossible to convey information at a speed faster than c. " It could be possible and we just have not discovered it yet. Unless you know something and just haven't got around to sharing yet. We have a lot of theories and mathematical constructs but if just one of these theories is wrong we would have to re-evaluate all of the assumptions. Especially since some of the baseline theories are based upon mathematical equations that have needed to numerical constants added to make the equations actually work.

Re:SETI (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 4 months ago | (#45805517)

The earth orbits where the sun is right now.

It does, but not for the reasons you claim: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_gravity [wikipedia.org]

Re:SETI (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#45805653)

In other words, because we orbit the sun and not vice versa, the sun is pretty much still in the same place as it was eight minutes ago, and will be in the same place eight minutes from now?

When we look up and see the sun, we're only seeing it how it looked eight minutes ago, but it's in the same apparent position in the sky that it would be whatever the speed of light was.

Is that right?

Re: SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805847)

The earth doesn't orbit the sun

http://zidbits.com/2011/09/the-earth-doesnt-actually-orbit-the-sun/

Re:SETI (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#45805963)

I have heard this. I've also heard that it's an urban myth. And that it's a real phenomena, but that the discrepancy only exists when analyzing the system in terms of Newtonian gravitation, and disappears when analyzed in terms of Relativity. Take your pick.

Regardless, we *are* looking for gravity waves - we've found tightly-orbiting binary star systems that are losing energy at precisely the rate predicted by the emission of gravity waves propagating at light speed (a different speed of gravity wave propagation would mean a different rate of energy loss). And we've built gravity wave detectors so sensitive that they should be able to detect the asymmetric spatial distortions created by gravity waves far weaker than those that the are being emitted by the binary stars.

And so far they have detected *nothing*. Not even a ripple. Which is a rather major mystery that, to me at least, suggests there's something important we don't yet understand about gravity.

Re:SETI (1)

cusco (717999) | about 4 months ago | (#45809337)

Considering that we only recently have figured out that we can't even detect around 9/10 of the matter and energy in the universe I think that there is quite a lot we don't understand.

Re:SETI (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#45809433)

No argument. But in fairness, that 90% estimate is based on the assumption that we *do* understand gravity. Even a relatively "simple" and non-controversial reanalysis using Relativity instead of Newtonian Gravity mostly eliminates the galactic rotation problem, which weakens the case for dark matter, and dark energy has an even more tenuous evidence base. And there are several theories that suppose that either or both are actually artifacts of space-time itself, with no need for some sort of mysteriously undetectable mass-energy to exist within it.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806319)

Wrong... sooo wrong. Gravity travels only at the speed of light.

Re:SETI (1)

hubie (108345) | about 4 months ago | (#45809045)

The force of gravity is faster than light. Why this isn't widely known is a mystery to me (probably breaks someone's pet model - you think science doesn't have heretics?) but it's true. The earth doesn't orbit where the sun was 8 minutes ago. If it did it would have long ago left the solar system. The earth orbits where the sun is right now. It takes light about 8 minutes to travel from the sun to the earth.

Do the math sometime and you'll see that you are wrong (you are right that it orbits where the sun is now, but not for the reasons you think); or at least, do the math from our current models. I don't know what the math would say from whatever model your theory is.

As for heretics and pet models, a summary of where the current pet models stand with regard to being tested can be found here [lbl.gov]. From the conclusion:

All present experimental tests are compatible with the predictions of the current “standard” theory of gravitation: Einstein’s General Relativity. The universality of the coupling between matter and gravity (Equivalence Principle) has been verified around the 10^(-13) level. Solar system experiments have tested the weak-field predictions of Einstein’s theory at the 10^(-4) level (and down to the 2 × 10^(-5) level for the post-Einstein parameter gamma-bar). The propagation properties of relativistic gravity, as well as several of its strong-field aspects, have been verified at the 10^(-3) level (or better) in several binary pulsar experiments. Recent laboratory experiments have set strong constraints on sub-millimeter modifications of Newtonian gravity. Quantitative confirmations of General Relativity have also been obtained on astrophysical and cosmological scales (assuming dark matter and a cosmological constant).

This pet theory is almost 100 year old now, and though there is still lots of interesting things to study and find, it does not have a problem explaining the orbits of the Earth and Sun as you seem to think it does.

Re: SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805363)

Hahah good joke!

No and no. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805431)

SETI is about detecting ambient electromagentic waves that may be of an "intelligent" origin. Lasers, however, are a specific form of electromagnetic wave. So in some sense, SETI is already looking for them.

Now, lasers used for communications like this are of the utmost quality. Their dispersion (that is, how much the beam of light separates over time and distance) is very minimal. While a flashlight may have a large dispersion measured in meters a few centimeters from the light source, lasers used for communications usually have a dispersion of less than a tenth of a millimeter over hundreds of thousands of kilometers. This means that we're looking at dispersion of only a few millimeters after millions of kilometers. Even after traveling billions upon billions of kilometers, the dispersion is still measured in only a handful of meters.

Since there's so little dispersion of our modern-day high-quality laser beams, and it's likely that any other "intelligence" could very well have lasers far superior to ours, trying to detect them would be very, very difficult unless you're at the specific location you were targeted at. It's very unlikely that the laserbeam, given its relatively small size, would directly it a SETI detection device.

To put things in perspective, imagine that you're standing at one end of a football field. Then imagine your friend is at the other end. Your friend has a sewing needle, and is somehow able to throw it at you over that distance. The likelihood of SETI successfully capturing an arbitrary laser-based communication signal is still far, far less probable than you catching the sewing needle thrown by your friend from 100 meters away directly in your penis' urethra. I hope that puts it in perspective.

SETI should keep doing what they're doing, because while it's similar in nature to what'd be needed to detect laser-based signals, there's still the probability that any "intelligence" out there may have discovered radio technology first, and they are transmissions that are far easier and much more likely to be detected by non-target receivers.

Re:No and no. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#45805791)

What about reflections. I noticed ambient glows around the areas where a laser pointed is directed at so I assume that some of the light scatters when it is reflected from any surface not a mirror.

So lets assume two space crafts (man made) are using lasers to communicate in an orbit around mars, would we be able to detect and decode the communications from the reflections and scatter without directly watching the crafts or would it disperse so much that it wouldn't be noticeable from the earth.

Re:No and no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805913)

and it's likely that any other "intelligence" could very well have lasers far superior to ours

Why do you think that is the case? They have had just as long time to form and evolve and develop as us. Why do you assume that they are further ahead?

Re:No and no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45807143)

Because continuous exponential growth of every single technology regardless of physical reality is a major fundamental assumption for many Americans. Because for a few things, it has been true for a few decades. But overwhelmingly it's not, but just watch, at some point during any discussion about fundamental limits, especially with anything to do with space: "computers got better!" That's the end-all and be-all argument when things get inconvenient for a certain set of people who think we're heading out into space.

Re:No and no. (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#45815953)

and it's likely that any other "intelligence" could very well have lasers far superior to ours ... "Why do you think that is the case? " Because they are Republicans! Denny Crane.

Re:No and no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806087)

While a flashlight may have a large dispersion measured in meters a few centimeters from the light source, lasers used for communications usually have a dispersion of less than a tenth of a millimeter over hundreds of thousands of kilometers. This means that we're looking at dispersion of only a few millimeters after millions of kilometers. Even after traveling billions upon billions of kilometers, the dispersion is still measured in only a handful of meters.

That is not how lasers work, at least any practical sized ones. You will be limited by diffraction, such that once you get more than a couple Rayleigh lengths away, it will spread out in a cone. It all depends on what the size of your starting optics is and the wavelength of light. For a typical 1064 nm system, even if you had a 10 m diameter telescope sending the signal (larger than what most of theses systems are using), you would have a Rayleigh length of ~70,000 km. So at a distance of 70,000 km, it would already be ~40% bigger than the 10 m it started at. By the time you get to the Moon, the beam will be five times larger than what it started at, so ~50 m across. If you used visible light, even in the blue end, you would change this by more than a factor of 2. Although in real systems, the optics have to be much larger than your beam to get a clean beam, so it would actually be a factor of 2 or more worse anyway.

You can't have infinitely long, straight beams, in a vacuum, even in an idealized case, unless Maxwell's equations are wrong. You can't have a beam expanding millimeters over a distance of hundreds of thousands of kilometers unless using a very short wavelength or optics that are extremely large in size.

Re: No and no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806491)

This is BS. Optical SETI is what we should be doing. It would not be tough to build an ultra-fast pulsed laser that using optics of our largest telescopes would outshine the sun to a distance of 100 light years. We could be monitoring thousand of stars for optical SETI pulses simultaneously with a telescope.

Re: No and no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45809353)

It might be harder than you think. If you had a diffraction limited 10 m telescope on both the sending and receiving end, 10 light years apart, each joule of energy in a pulse will result in only ~2 photons being received assuming 100% efficiency. So you need to send multiple joules per bit of information to have any chance of receiving information on the other end. While very high laser powers are achievable, they are for very short pulses, typically much less than a joule for the > TW pulsed laser power. More industrial, lower instantaneous power lasers can get to 10s to 100s of joules per pulse for short times, although sustaining their operation gets more difficult. High power CW lasers have their own issues with modulation. Some kludge may be "possible" with an Apollo program level budget or more, otherwise we will have to wait for some time to see how things progress. Not to mention problems with propagation of high powers through the atmosphere...

Re:SETI (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | about 4 months ago | (#45805587)

No but then you simply can't intercept Whisker Lasers easily. You need to get a stealthed Recon-drone in the beam to do so.

Re:SETI (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#45805621)

Does this make what SETI is looking for pointless? Should they instead be looking for lasers if they work better for communication.

Why would any of those lasers be aimed at us?

Re:SETI (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 months ago | (#45807029)

The idea is that any sufficiently advanced interstellar species using lasers for long-distance communications will have enough of them that at any given moment they will be pointed every which way. Much like a normal sophisticated urban human is carrying multiple radio devices.

Although tenuous, it does get away from the background glare problem. Nobody out there is going to see an Earth based laser unless we're using one powerful enough to push a solar sail on an interstellar probe because glare of the sun is so close. But a comms laser from Ceres to the moons of Saturn? Maybe. A comms laser returning data from an outbound comet to a relay in orbit around Saturn? Certainly.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45807217)

Yes, but your normal human is carrying around these device because he can get them to work in an insignificant fraction of his lifespan. When you only live a few decades, what's the point of blasting messages across space when it takes decades to go out, and decades to come back? You're dead, or have forgotten the message by the time this hypothetical answer comes.

Re:SETI (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 4 months ago | (#45806341)

this would be like those pulsar things that would be an extraordinary amount of energy if they radiated in all directions, but reasonable if it were a pulse of directed energy. which begs the question - why are they pointed at earth? one solution is clear. angels. it's a wonderful life!

Re:SETI (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 4 months ago | (#45807329)

Does this make what SETI is looking for pointless? Should they instead be looking for lasers if they work better for communication.

No. SETI should be looking for sharks - duh.

Re:SETI (1)

jd (1658) | about 4 months ago | (#45807947)

Optical SETI is an active field of research. It doesn't get talked about as much as radio SETI, in part because it is only recently that optical interferometry arrays became possible, in part because optical telescope time is expensive and in part because the atmosphere limits the quality of data for optics. There are (very recent) developments in autocorrection that reduce atmospherics, but the reality is that until someone parks an optical SKA telescope in space, the quality of telescope data won't be sufficient.

Sharks on the Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805347)

So, when are they sending the first batch of sharks with frick'in lasers attached to their heads to the moon? And will China and India send their own sharks too?

Re:Sharks on the Moon (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805449)

So, when are they sending the first batch of sharks with frick'in lasers attached to their heads to the moon? And will China and India send their own sharks too?

Yay the old sharks and lasers meme that was never really funny to begin with. Your life is one empty meaningless moment of agony and despair after another, isn't it? You're morbidly obese and smelly, aren't you? Going for the "yay there ARE people like me!" pity mod I see.

It may not happen.. but it would not surprise me in the least if you get +5 Funny and I get -1 somethingorother. That will make it all better, giving you the validation you so deeply seek.

and some will take over the laser asking 1 million (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 4 months ago | (#45806609)

after I destroy Washington D.C... I will destroy another major city every hour on the hour. That is, unless, of course, you pay me... one million dollars

That's Great (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 4 months ago | (#45805365)

Why don't we have a space program any more? Let's have a space program again, then this stuff will matter.

Lack of a space program is further evidence of America's ongoing loss of the ability to do anything useful. We already outsourced all our manufacturing. We can't build a web site for $600 million and the space program has been reduced to six guys trying to earn a merit badge.

Bring the space program back.

Re:That's Great (3, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#45805409)

cat, just because we dont have a large manned space program does not mean we dont have a space program. I would say that we have found out more about space and moons and planets and stars in the previous 10 years than at any time in the past. Sure it is not as flashy as sending an astronaut to the moon or mars, which I am in agreement with you that we need to be working harder on our manned missions, but to say our space program is dead is just simply wrong

Re:That's Great (1)

m00sh (2538182) | about 4 months ago | (#45805481)

cat, just because we dont have a large manned space program does not mean we dont have a space program. I would say that we have found out more about space and moons and planets and stars in the previous 10 years than at any time in the past. Sure it is not as flashy as sending an astronaut to the moon or mars, which I am in agreement with you that we need to be working harder on our manned missions, but to say our space program is dead is just simply wrong

I hope this is not one of those five year technologies.

Slashdot is full of stories about this new technology and that new technology that will be ready in five years. These then just vanish after the story first appears.

After the story is published and we comment, it is forgotten and nobody is held accountable for publishing bullshit.

Maybe someone should do a review of stories published 5 years ago of new technologies that have never materialized. I remember five years ago there used to be so many stories of new storage technologies about storing in DNA, some crystal lattices. nano-structures and so on.

Re:That's Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805939)

I hope this is not one of those five year technologies.

Slashdot is full of stories about this new technology and that new technology that will be ready in five years. These then just vanish after the story first appears.

You mean like those stories about flash drives being commercially available in five years or electric vehicles being put to market in five years?

Yep, I wonder why we don't see those stories anymore.

Re:That's Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806613)

You do realize that one end of the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration is actually in orbit around the moon right now, right? The "will be ready in five years" stories were all about five years ago.

5 year technologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45809561)

A lot of technology is demonstrated, but doesn't find a home,because nobody actually needs it. No scientist is going to risk their $100M science mission on something like laser com, when they can spend $1-2M and get a box-stock radio communications system that works with all the existing ground systems, etc. Sure, they might be limited in data rate, but they also don't have to worry about anything else. There's a huge ground systems infrastructure in radio: deep space network, near earth network, ESA stations, commercial stations, etc. All will happily work with your standard radio for about $1000/hr, delivering your bits to you in the format of your choice.

The laser com folks (who have been working on this for literally decades) are waiting for the customer who absolutely positively MUST have that high data rate that *cannot* be done with conventional safe radio, and who has the money to do their mission.

Re:That's Great (1)

causality (777677) | about 4 months ago | (#45805493)

Sure it is not as flashy as creating an Immanuel Goldstein out of a nation that's not really such a threat to us, that we often armed and trained first, then spending many times the resources in order to go overseas to shoot up and blow up some brown people with unfamiliar names to keep the military industrial complex satiated, but to say our miniscule, neglected, space program (that no longer inspires the nation) is dead is just simply wrong

Fixed that for you. It must have really been something to have heard Kennedy declare that we choose to go to the moon, not because it is easy but because it is hard. A sense of purpose and a sort of pride that came from technical achievement and engineering marvels rather than the comparatively simple matter of sending the world's strongest military against some of the world's weakest militaries. This generation has nothing quite like that.

That was pre-Boomer America. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805785)

I remember 1961 fondly. I was 31 then. You need to understand that those were very different times. That was pre-Boomer America, which I can assure you was much better than the post-Boomer America we have to deal with now. I'm not looking back through rose-colored glasses, either. The people and accomplishments speak for themselves.

Back then, America was a meritocracy. Those who were were good, regardless of origin or background, succeeded. Those who were great excelled. Those who couldn't were rightfully shunned. Resources were funneled to those who could accomplish great things. And as would be expected, great things were accomplished. July 20, 1969 is a perfect example of this.

But then the Baby Boomers came onto the scene in the mid-1960s. It's safe to say that, as a generation, they have managed to destroy America. Coming from unearned privilege, they did not realize the importance of merit and hard work. Everything was just handed to them. They extended that mentality to everything they got involved with.

As time progressed, Boomers got involved with government and business. Rather than being a limited tool to help society achieve initiatives where the direct financial profit may be small or nonexistent, but the social benefits still large nevertheless, the Boomers converted government into a vehicle for handouts.

Just look where we are today, thanks to the Boomers. Their ruination of government now results in huge sums of money going toward poor, useless, dumb-as-dirt Southerners who waste it on junk food. Then there's the so-called "corporate welfare" going to inefficient, uncompetitive private enterprises. Meanwhile, the budgets of NASA and other actually useful organizations have been slashed to nearly nothing.

Baby Boomers do not know how to properly allocate resources, and that's why so much of America's economy is in turmoil, and its scientific research capabilities severely compromised. Baby Boomers, in a single generation, managed to destroy what was the most productive and capable society that has ever existed. It's one of the greatest shames of history.

Re:That was pre-Boomer America. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805969)

Those who were were good, regardless of origin or background, succeeded. Those who were great excelled. Those who couldn't were rightfully shunned.

Unless you were black or a woman. Then you were told to sit down and shut up.

Re:That was pre-Boomer America. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806237)

Let me guess, you were born in the 1990s. I can tell that you weren't an adult before 1960, that's for sure.

Like I said, it was a meritocracy back then. Women, blacks, and anyone else who could be productive members of society were accepted and could succeed. Just look at the significant contributions that Rear Admiral Grace Hopper [wikipedia.org] made, for example. She earned a PhD from Yale, had a very successful military career, and made numerous important scientific contributions. And she did much of this well before 1960! She's just one among many women who made very important contributions to a variety of different fields, including ones dominated by men.

We also can't forget the numerous contributions of George Washington Carver [wikipedia.org]. He died during WWII, by the way, well before 1960. And he's just one among many blacks who made very important contributions to a variety of different fields.

Since you've decided to focus on women and blacks, I can assure you that I personally worked with (even as a subordinate, at times) many of them back in the 1950s and 1960s at a number of companies and institutions. We treated them as equals, we worked with them as equals, and together we had a lot of success.

America was also a far more industrial nation at that time. There were a lot of jobs done by men only because it would've been extremely disrespectful to women to subject them to very dangerous or uncomfortable situations. Most women did not want to work around oil rigs, or in coal mines, or in heavy industry. The very few who did want to engage in such work were more than able to, however, and some did. It was much more common to find the women working in the front offices of such operations.

Were some blacks and women shunned? Of course. So were a lot of white males. They were the ones who did not provide any benefit to society at large, and who had no drive to improve themselves, or who didn't bother to try to succeed. They're no different than the so-called "rednecks" or "gangstas" today. Some people are just inherently worthless, regardless of their race or gender. They can't succeed in a meritocracy because they have no merit!

You've likely only ever heard a very distorted view of history, very likely delivered by Baby Boomers who themselves never really experienced adult life back then, and who can't mentally cope with the concept of a meritocracy. It's yet another example of their shameful behavior ruining America. But it's a convenient one, because it allows them to deny the utter destruction they have brought.

Re:That was pre-Boomer America. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806531)

I guess you must have been around back then too, because you sound a lot like the assholes I had to deal with back then to get the education people like you use as proof women were treated well. Professors thought they were being proper and respectful by taking me aside and telling me that that the field of work was not for women. This wasn't oil field work, this was chemistry academia. Didn't matter how many tests or lab work I did better than 90% of the class, I would still get pulled aside and lectured about various reasons to consider changing fields or lectured about what perusing something professionally would wreck my chances of finding a husband and raising a family.

Of course people these day get distorted views of the past, in part because people who were there see thing through rose tinted glasses and were blind to problems they weren't on the wrong side of. Or because they were actively part of the problem back then and their ego rationalizes it away, such as "being respectful."

Re:That was pre-Boomer America. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806857)

I doubt the veracity of your story. It very much sounds to me like you likely were not in the top 10% of your class, regardless of what you may believe. The talks you got were likely because of this, not because of your gender.

It was common for men to get such talks, too, if they weren't in the top 10% academically. After all, in a meritocracy, only those who truly have any merit will have any chance of succeeding. Being in the top 10% is the minimum for that. It is respectful to urge the bottom 90% to find some other field or vocation where they may be in the top 10%.

I originally wanted to study classical New England poetry and literature back in the early 1950s, when I attended college. While I enjoyed it, I was not very good at the analysis of such works. Several professors urged me to study something else. That's why, as a man, I transferred to the physics program, where I was in the top 10%.

I am thankful that they were honest with me. They very likely saved me from a life of failure. We just don't see that today, in the post-Boomer academic world, however. The Baby Boomer attitude is that everybody should be in the top 10%, whether they deserve it or not, and whether they actually are or not. That is why students who once would've been told to transfer to a different program of study are now allowed to barely pass their way through to the very end of their degree, only to find that they have no chance at any subsequent success.

I'm sorry that you have misinterpreted the good will shown to you by those who actually cared. That is quite unfortunate.

Re:That was pre-Boomer America. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45809193)

I'm with you dude. I never understood why the colored people got all uppity. I mean, we gave them the whole back of the bus! Do you remember how roomy it was back there? And we gave them their own fucking restrooms, water fountains, and entrances! They got special treatment; dare I say respectful treatment. It is very unfortunate that they misinterpreted all that good will and special treatment they were given.

Amen on the woman thing too. She clearly wasn't in the top 10 percent because if she was, she would have been given the respect to have been offered a non-paid faculty position. If it was good enough for Lise Meitner, Chien-Shiung Wu, and others, it should have been good enough for her.

Re:That was pre-Boomer America. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45809463)

Oh look, more of that rationalization, "She couldn't possibly have had that much problems, things weren't that bad, she must be mistaken." Same crap was said then. Considering grades to exams were posted by name publicly on a bulletin board, it is pretty easy to see how you were doing, unless that was all a conspiracy to protect one person's feelings.

It is respectful to urge the bottom 90% to find some other field or vocation where they may be in the top 10%.

Yeah, which is why the profs had no problem encouraging people who were anywhere in the top 50% from continuing on and picked them for recommendations to various labs and friends. Not that it stopped me from getting into academia and staying there long enough to retire, but it took considerable more work and applications than my classmates, despite having more papers, experience and grades then the vast majority of them. The other woman to finish the undergrad degree my year moved on after not being able to get anyone, despite profs having no issue writing lackluster recommendations for people in the bottom half of the class.

Things have changed, although maybe it was simpler when people just said, "women don't belong in chemistry," instead of being a special kind of dick to try to justify being an asshole roadblock as a form of helping. These days I've seen far fewer upcoming women having problems of such magnitudes, although the unlucky few still face big issues with denial from others insisting things couldn't be bad...

Re:That was pre-Boomer America. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806037)

IIRC, Johnson wasn't a boomer, and the boomers didn't vote for him.

IIRC, Nixon wasn't a boomer, and the boomers didn't vote for him, either.

The 1960s should have been a time of reduced government and lower taxes. Instead the Progressives in both parties managed to run up massive debt and squander the post WW2 piece dividend in a misguided attempt to "destroy" Communism while at the same time embracing many of the same statist policies endorsed by Marx and Engels.

The boomers, having been educated by statists in government run schools, were doing exactly what the Progressive politicians wanted them to do: demand more power be given to the central government. Of course, when that same central government tried to get them to fight the "Communists" they used their massive numbers to take the draft away as a way to raise an army.

Re:That was pre-Boomer America. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#45806767)

But then the Baby Boomers came onto the scene in the mid-1960s. It's safe to say that, as a generation, they have managed to destroy America.

I'd start looking for someone to blame by looking in the mirror. Boomers didn't create the majority of the entitlements, for example. A bunch of that stuff started broken. Nor did they raise the Boomer generation.

Nor did they create seven billion people currently on Earth or the economics and technologies that drive globalism. Those people compete with US workers for jobs and for a lot of industries are simply a better choice - no matter the generation of the US worker. I think how they tried to escape that problem is deeply in fault, but it's something that anyone born in the past century would have tried.

Nor did Boomers create the massive US problems of the 60s and 70s, such as pollution, the Vietnam War, dependency on oil, the Mafia, creation of the Rust Belt, etc.

Even today's problems can't be fully blamed on the Boomers. They didn't force young adults to suck up lots of student loan debt or vote for charlatans, for example.

Re:That was pre-Boomer America. (1)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 4 months ago | (#45806793)

I remember 1961 fondly. I was 31 then. You need to understand that those were very different times. That was pre-Boomer America, which I can assure you was much better than the post-Boomer America we have to deal with now. I'm not looking back through rose-colored glasses, either. The people and accomplishments speak for themselves.

As one of the 'last' of the boomers (b. '64) I'd love to be able to swallow your wholly-generational explanation for the general Suck of things but I cannot. I see too many re-connections of the same bad ideas across generations, often re-sold to the younger under thin new guises. Would that I took a position such as yours, I'd have a few younger generations to blame. But I will not sling it their way either.

A generational explanation does not explain the phenomenon that is Donald Rumsfeld [wikipedia.org] for example, who cut his political teeth during one of the most drawn-out and pointless conflicts of the 20th century [wikipedia.org], only did he learn anything? No, rather he subsequently 'used' his venerated status to lure the United States into Afghanistan (for 'revenge') then into Iraq (under known-false pretenses) just as his younger neocon proxies are now doing to bring us to the brink of war with Iran. But as Ron Paul says, they attack us because we've been over there." [youtube.com]

If the Flower Children have a fault, it is that they have been a bit too trusting, too distractable and too utopian for the room. And a tad short on the context of historical cause and effect. It was their Boomer parents who have failed to instill in them a broad and nuanced appreciation of history. And especially how it repeats itself.

In 2001 it was the Boomer demographic led the United States into pre-emptive war in the Middle East, believing that it was direct retribution for the felling of the Towers -- sold as a shocking and sudden Pearl Harbor. But yet, Pearl Harbor itself occurred during a time in which we had already declared war on Japan by blockade, a time in which direct conflict was inevitable. Though the war with Japan began (for most Americans) under the false pretense of a 'surprise' attack, I nevertheless consider the war itself just, as an unchallenged Japan allied with Germany would surely have been our downfall.

A similar historical disconnect occurs at the end of WWII, where an alarming number of Flower Children and their progeny consider the use of the Atomic Weapon to be not merely unjustified, actually a crime against humanity. Again the historical context fails them. For despite the fact that Japan was in retreat, they were on the eve of massively unleashing a devastating new weapon themselves -- the Kamikaze aircraft -- which would have destroyed the United States' fleet and turned the tides of war completely. Only the Bomb (and their belief that we had more than two of them) saved the United States and Japan from a gruesome escalation.

Now we have a President who champions Socialism under new and trendy names despite a clear warning from Putin (of all people) that it does not work. Go figure.

Baby Boomers do not know how to properly allocate resources, and that's why so much of America's economy is in turmoil, and its scientific research capabilities severely compromised.

Who is John Galt?

Re:That's Great (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#45805895)

Not really sure what any of what you just said had to do with what I was saying. Good attempt to paint what I said into something political when it was in fact not. I am a firm believer that we should be spending more on nasa, a good 5X-10X more than what we do.

Re:That's Great (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#45806029)

Ah, just to clarify - the space race was most definitely a military endeavor. We show off our state-of-the-art ICBM technology (carrying a human payload into space) to the Russians, they do the same to us. Rinse and repeat until the Soviet Union imploded, at which point both space programs lost their military importance, and with it most of their funding.

It made for great PR films, but the people that cared about science, exploration, and pushing the boundaries of human accomplishment were always riding on the coat tails of the military. Once that stopped being possible it was really only the usefulness of satellites that kept us in space at all. They pay for the launch, and we mostly make do with whatever science we can squeeze in while we're up there.

Re:That's Great (2)

cusco (717999) | about 4 months ago | (#45810071)

That's always been a cute fairy tale put forward by the Pentagon fantasy factory, but it's never been true. The military assisted in the space race, especially in the beginning when they had the only functional launchers, but the necessities of space exploration quickly surpassed the really rather primitive needs of the military. The Apollo 1 booster was already larger and more powerful than any ICBM would ever need to be, and took so long to assemble, prep and fuel that it could never be useful as a weapon. The Pentagon never needed a booster powerful enough to send a 700 kilo spacecraft to the edge of interplanetary space, much less send two spacecraft and an electric car to the moon, nor did the Kremlin.

Von Braun and Korolev worked on military projects during the first part of their because that was the only way they could get funding. They achieved their greatest accomplishments working on the civilian programs. Von Braun made no secret that the Moon had always been his goal, and Korolev upbraided a Kremlin general that wanted to usurp some of his funding by telling him, "These rockets are much more important to our future than your missiles."

Re:That's Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45812069)

Oh, the Pentagon has a fantasy factory! As opposed to the hard-as-nails realism of NASA propaganda about orbital ball bearing factories and working in space for peace... Whatever you're on, it's powerful powerful stuff.

Re:That's Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805651)

We also don't have wooden sailships circling the globe anymore either. Those days are dead, so is the space age. Get over it. There is no connection between your perceived social decay and lack of test pilots in rockets. Any social changes will need social remedies, and these are extraordinarily difficult which is why tech-types tend to favor imaginary tech solutions. Ultimately though, you will need to work right here on this planet with real solutions to the problems you see. Climbing up your own arse with your 1970s NASA picture books is just escapism, and childish.

tips from the 'inventor' of windows home (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805387)

gates referring to his home nt installation said; 'i could not get it to turn off so i threw a blanket over it'. i thought he was daft..... smarter than he lets on?

Not very far. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45805567)

The Sun is 1 AU from the Earth, or over 90 million miles away. 1/4 of a million miles is not very far at all in space.

this is "news"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45806435)

So now NASA employs, through it's politically correct programs of recruitment, people so THICK, they are SURPRISED that light travels excellently through the (mostly) vacuum of space). How America has fallen. Let me guess, all of NASA's toilet facilities are gender 'neutral' too, and the word "Christmas" is banned from all NASA facilities.

This reminds me of the worst US/NATO humiliation ever, when a clearly retarded woman, promoted by NASA to be chief 'scientist' on one of their teams, declared to the world that she had discovered a new form of life on Earth that used different elements in its DNA. Now while well-educated people believe it MAY be possible for DNA-like structures to use certain other elements in place of those found on Earth, in very different chemical/physical conditions on other planets, this woman left her audience gob-smacked when she claimed this 'new' DNA was identical to 'ordinary' DNA, save for arsenic replacing the phosphorous atoms.

Very dim children have the periodic table explained to them by EMPHASISING that elements in a column share similar properties. Dim children latch on to this very simplistic idea as a fundamental principle of chemistry, which it most certainly is not. The NASA woman based her 'theory' on what 11-year-olds are taught about the periodic table. It is as if a watchmaker suggested you might open up your (mechanical) watch, and find a water-wheel replacing one of the usual cogs, because in some (very vague) sense, watch cogs and water-wheels are the same 'class' of object.

NASA's claim, given in a massively promoted press-conference, showed how NASA now employs no real scientists at all at the top of the organisation- explaining why NASA can be used, for political purposes, to push Tony Blair's agenda of man-made climate change. A 'scientist' that can honestly believe ordinary DNA can simply swap one of its constituent elements with another from the same column of the periodic table and function just as well (or actually at all), will prove ANY propaganda based on pseudo-science that Team Blair feels useful to condition ordinary Humans to increasing back the war mongering agenda of Western nations.

NASA is, after all, the space arm of the US armed services. In the days of the TV sitcom, "I dream of genie", when the average American was far better educated, the TV show had ZERO problem making it clear that the two astronauts were members of two branches of the US armed services (Navy and Air-force). Today, the owners of Slashdot think you so stupid, they can push the idea that NASA is but a 'harmless' civilian operation.

Re:this is "news"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45807601)

It isn't unusual to see argue their point by appealing to a work of fiction, such as Randians making references to Atlas Shrugged, but I think this is a first for me to see someone argue a point by appealing to I Dream of Jeanie!

Good to know that... (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 4 months ago | (#45815911)

...porn will be readily available on the Moon and beyond and we can always take a troll through deep space.
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